Posts Tagged ‘training’

Drink the new ‘Cool-aid’

June 29, 2011

I’ve been a huge fan of Apple computers since I first started drinking the “Cupertino Cool-aid” back in college, but it’s only been since the company launched its retail stores that I completely bought into the Cult of Jobs. The App Store. OS X. iMacs. iPhones. iPads. I’m hooked.
Every time I have to stop by the Apple store for something, I’m not-so-subtly reminded just how great a retail experience can be. Apple’s customer service is now the standard to which I hold all other retailers, from powersports to gardening supplies, and most of them fail. (Trader Joe’s is the only other major exception.)

Like many budding curmudgeons, I find myself having less and less patience for poor customer service and rude or indifferent employees. I don’t expect to be pampered, and I know some retail stores by design cannot match Apple’s example, but how about offering just a smidgeon of help, with a smile? Owners and management, shouldn’t your personnel training be geared toward making your customers comfortable, maybe even happy, about spending their money with you? This doesn’t always seem the case.

Apple seems to have perfected the art of retail. Never in the history of spending money to buy goods has a company made it so effortless and downright enjoyable to spend money to buy goods.

And this is where Apple intersects with the powersports business.

There was a story in The Wall Street Journal in June talking about the success — and recipe behind it — of Apple’s retail stores. The story reports some incredible numbers: Apple’s annual retail sales per sq. ft. are $4,406 (minus online sales), and its 326 stores brought in more customers in a single quarter than the 60 million people who visited Disney’s four biggest theme parks in 2010.

An obvious aspect of this success, the story says, is the must-have clamor for Apple’s popular products. Seems these are items that people absolutely want to have. After all, does anybody really need an iPad? Likely a few, but everybody wants one.

The other instrument of this success, according to WSJ reporters Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ian Sherr, is that Apple is on the leading edge of customer service and store design. Jobs and company grenaded the idea of what an electronics store should be (think back to the days of CompUSA) and pioneered what would become the Apple layout.

A major point: Products are staged to highlight how they could be used, not just stacked on a shelf or hung from a hook.

A second major point: Sales workers are extensively trained not to sell, but to “help customers solve problems” by understanding their needs, even the ones they don’t know they have. They’re schooled on Apple’s principles of customer service and must shadow experienced employees before they’re even allowed to interact with customers. Even the hiring process is selective, often requiring two rounds of interviews with potential employees quizzed about their skills and passion for Apple’s products.

As the reporters point out, specialty retailers like Apple often invest heavily in training. What makes Apple different is that its employees are passionate about the company’s products and are willing to learn.

Hmm … let’s see, what other industry has retail stores whose employees are enthusiasts of its products, and are selling these same products to customers who are just as enthusiastic? And which industry is selling items that are more want than need to people who really, really want them?

Can’t quite get a bead on it right now, but I’m guessing it’s one that’s not exactly steeped in best retail practices and could stand to learn a thing or two from one that is.

Thinking, thinking, thinking …

Dennis Johnson
Editor in Chief
dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

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Converting Buyers To Repeat Customers

September 27, 2010

Customers For Life: How To Turn that One-Time Buyer
Into a Lifetime Customer

How much would you pay to acquire a lifetime customer? One who would come  back to your dealership time after time to buy things, year after year? How about $15 and a few hours of your time? I thought so.

All you have to do is read a small paperback book, or, better yet, pick up a bunch of copies for your key employees. The book is the bestselling classic, “Customers For Life“, by Carl Sewell and Paul B.Brown. It also includes  a brief but informative section by management consultant Tom Peters. The book is published by Doubleday, initially in 1990 and reprinted in 2002. But it’s still valuable today, two decades later. It might be the best investment of a hundred bucks or so in staff training that you ever made. I don’t work for Amazon, but here’s where you can read other reviews and order the book on-line, if you wish.

The easy-to-read paperback contains 41 chapters in 210 pages. But you don’t have to read the entire book, front to back. Pick out chapters that are important to you, and start there. “Customers” is written by Carl Sewell, a Dallas car dealer, who is one of the most successful sellers of luxury cars in the country. His associate, Paul Brown, is a former writer and editor at Business Week, Forbes, Financial World, and Inc., and a specialist in customer service. These guys know what they are talking about and they know how to say it in plain, simple language that’s easy to grasp.

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Suzuki’s Mueller Moves to Glenn Roller

May 19, 2009

Hey, Suzuki dealers, been waiting to hear from Bob Mueller? Mueller was – until recently – sales development manager for American Suzuki Motor Corp. The key word here is “was,” as Mueller was caught up in Suzuki’s recent employee downsizing scheme.

But Mueller isn’t finished with the motorcycle industry. In fact, you can now find him working with Glenn Roller at the Glenn Roller Institute. You may recall The Educational Program, Roller’s comprehensive sales training program, offered through Suzuki, that promises to take any salesperson – if they are willing to study and learn – from a basic to a highly advanced level of sales competency.

The Educational Program takes the salesperson to a higher level of understanding of the sales process and teaches a sales system that raises sales efficiency (average amount of time and effort it takes to close sales). This system is so efficient that within seven minutes one can establish customer trust, discover what is most important to them and determine their financial parameters. These levels of understanding are incredibly successful because they are simple and can be applied with any personality style. This program includes a 400 page sales book, a 12 CD audio book, 190 que cards for practicing your lines, on-line exercises, and on-line results reporting to management.

I’m currently taking The Educational Program training course, a process taking four to six weeks to complete at 30 minutes a day. I’ll let you know when I’m done.